Education /

Harvard Reinstates Standardized Testing Admissions Requirement

'More information, especially such strongly predictive information, is valuable for identifying talent from across the socioeconomic range,' said a Harvard official

Harvard Reinstates Standardized Testing Admissions Requirement

Harvard University will once again require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores, reversing a policy decision made in the wake of COVID-19 and rising criticism of the tests.

The university announced on April 11 that, beginning with the fall 2025 admissions cycle, applicants will be required to submit either their ACT or their SAT scores. The school will reevaluate the policy at “regular intervals.”

“Standardized tests are a means for all students, regardless of their background and life experience, to provide information that is predictive of success in college and beyond,” said Hopi Hoekstra, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in a press release. “Indeed, when students have the option of not submitting their test scores, they may choose to withhold information that, when interpreted by the admissions committee in the context of the local norms of their school, could have potentially helped their application.”

“In short, more information, especially such strongly predictive information, is valuable for identifying talent from across the socioeconomic range,” she said.

Harvard had previously said it would be a test-optional until the applications for the Class of 2030. The change mandates standardized tests for the Class of 2029.

“Critics correctly note that standardized tests are not an unbiased measure of students’ qualifications, as students from higher-income families often have greater access to test prep and other resources,” said Professor Raj Chetty, the director of Opportunity Insights. “But the data reveal that other measures — recommendation letters, extracurriculars, essays — are even more prone to such biases. Considering standardized test scores is likely to make the admissions process at Harvard more meritocratic while increasing socioeconomic diversity.”

In its announcement, Harvard shared a link to free tutoring and test preparation. 

Several other Ivy League schools have reinstated the requirement in recent months.

Dartmouth University did not require the SAT or the ACT for the Classes of 2025, 2026 and 2027 but brought back the requirement for the Class of 2028 in February.

“I’ve become less convinced that [test] optional is working for us at Dartmouth,” said Lee Coffin, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid.  “We’re reanimating the policy based on evidence.”

The school cited research from three economic professors that found standardized tests were an important way to compare students from different schools, countries, and backgrounds. 

A few weeks later, Yale University brought back its standardized test scores requirement four years after suspending the admissions requirement. 

The task of selecting students from an applicant pool containing tens of thousands of highly qualified students—many more than we can admit—requires an open mind and a healthy dose of humility about our ability to predict the future. For our standardized testing policy, we have tried to take the same approach,” the school’s admissions department said in its announcement. “Every standardized test is imperfect and incomplete. No exam can demonstrate every student’s college readiness or perfectly predict future performance.”

“When used thoughtfully as part of a whole-person review process, tests can help increase rather than decrease diversity in our class,” Yale added. “Inviting students to apply without any test scores can, inadvertently, disadvantage students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*